Leaders of Federal Australia-Armenia Inter-Parliamentary Union Call on PM Scott Morrison to Recognise the Armenian Genocide

By ANC-AU | Thursday, 22 April 2021

CANBERRA: The co-convenors of the Federal Australia-Armenia Inter-Parliamentary Union (Friendship Group), Trent Zimmerman MP and Joel Fitzgibbon MP have joined a growing caucus of prominent individuals and organisations calling on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to recognise the Armenian Genocide, reported the Armenian National Committee of Australia (ANC-AU).

Member for North Sydney Zimmerman – who Chairs the Australian Parliament's House of Representatives Committee on Health, Ageing & Sport – and Member for Hunter Fitzgibbon – Australia's former Defence Minister – wrote a letter to the Prime Minister supporting a community appeal for formal Canberra recognition of the Ottoman Empire’s mass murder of Armenians, Assyrians and Greeks in 1915 as genocide.

Their sentiments, communicated on the eve of the 106th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, is shared by over 40 of their Federal parliamentary colleagues, who have signed affirmations of support for the Joint Justice Initiative of the Armenian-Australian, Assyrian-Australian and Greek-Australian communities prioritising advocacy for accurate national recognition of 1915.

The letter co-signed by Zimmerman and Fitzgibbon calls on Prime Minister Morrison to correctly characterise, as he did in 2011, the events of 1915 as what they were – a genocide of over 1.5 million Armenians, and over 1 million Assyrians and Greeks, perpetrated at the hands of the Ottoman Empire.

"The actions of the Ottoman Empire against the Armenians was the first genocide in the modern era and should be recognised as such by the Australian government and parliament – as it was by the Australian government at the time. In fact, our nation's first humanitarian mission was to support the victims of the genocide," Zimmerman and Fitzgibbon wrote in their letter.

"It is long overdue for Australia to join so many other nations in recognising those events as a genocide, which led to the deaths of over 1.5 million Armenians through a deliberate act of state policy."

The letter concluded by stating: "We urge you to write this wrong and provide a message for this year's commemorations finally recognising the genocide on behalf of Australia."

In doing so, the Prime Minister will ensure Australia joins over 30 nations across the world, including the United States, France, Canada and Germany, in standing on the right side of history and promoting justice through recognition of these horrific crimes against humanity.

“This letter by Mr. Zimmerman and Mr. Fitzgibbon demonstrates the growing support in both political and public spheres around Australia for this nation, built on ideals of human rights and justice, to be the next nation to stand up and accurately recognise the Armenian Genocide,” said ANC-AU Executive Director, Haig Kayserian.

“With the near-unanimous recognition resolutions from both houses of the United States Congress last year, and with President Biden promising to recognise the Armenian Genocide this year, the 50,000 strong Armenian-Australian community hopes that Prime Minister Scott Morrison defends his own beliefs as communicated in 2011m and lead Australia towards recongnition,” Kayserian added.

In early April, the Armenian National Committee of Australia wrote to Scott Morrison, requesting his unequivocal statement on the 106th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. Since then, the New South Wales Ecumenical Council of 16 churches, Christian Charity Barnabas and the New South Wales Armenia-Australia Friendship Group, Kurdish Lobby Australia, the NSW Young Liberals and The Australian Greens among others, have called for a change in Australian foreign policy wording to include the word Genocide when referencing 1915.

The Armenian-Australian, Assyrian-Australian and Greek-Australian communities have united under the Joint Justice Initiative banner, announcing a #SpeakUpScoMo March for Justice in Sydney and Melbourne on 24th April 2021.